Calarco Library Gives Away Free Books From Old Collections
The Calarco Library is undergoing a major process, “weeding,” that regulates the books at Hopkins.
Since school libraries do not have unlimited space, removing older books from the library is essential to make room for new material. Faye Prendergast, head librarian, said, “It’s an organic process. The library has to support the Hopkins curriculum. Therefore, when the curriculum changes, we have to adjust accordingly.” Changes in curriculum, factually incorrect material, number of checkouts, and physical condition are all components used when evaluating whether or not to keep a book. Debra DuBois, another librarian involved in the process added, “Weeding is extremely important to maintaining the overall appearance, accuracy and relevance of our collection to the curriculum.”
Librarian Jennifer Nicolelli, who takes the lead on the Calarco weeding program, helped develop the Hopkins book circulation policy. Nicolelli said,“Like any group of librarians, we did our research. The policy refects all the recommended guidelines in library science, including criteria for removal. Science sections adhere to different standards than fiction - and the frequency of weeding is different for each section.” According to Prendergast, “Unlike public libraries that serve a greater community, school libraries have a targeted audience, and so it is essential to find content that will best aid students in their academic endeavors.”
Four Hopkins librarians work together in order to ensure that personal bias does not interfere with the weeding process. According to Nicolelli, “Weeding in Calarco works so well because four different individuals are involved. Through our individual interpretations of the weeding policy and guidelines, we balance out each others’ inherent biases and preferences.” Librarians James Gette, Prendergast, Nicolelli, and Debbie Dubois collaborate on the diffcult task of determining which books stay on the shelves. Prendergast stated, “We do not want out personal interests to be involved. It is why we involve different librarians to have multiple viewpoints.”
When books are weeded out, they are not immediately unavailable, but instead put out for students to take. Nicolelli said, “When we do remove books from the collection, we always offer them to the Hopkins community. Just because the items are no longer a good fit for the library doesn’t mean they won’t fnd a new home elsewhere.” CC Rocco ‘20 gave a student perspective on the free books, “I think it’s a really nice idea but I’ve never taken one because I’ve never seen one that I’m interested in.” Emma Reagan ‘20 added, “I always enjoy browsing the shelves, but a lot the books seem really outdated. Yet, I have grabbed one or two that I thought seemed interesting.” Although it is sometimes hard seeing books be taken out of the collection, it is a necessity for a healthy, useful library. Gette, another librarian who is involved with the book circulation process, said, “Yes, there are empty shelves, but there are reasons. You want to leave room for a collection to expand. ‘We have the space’ isn’t a good reason to keep a book that is otherwise not useful on the shelf.”
While it can be a painful, tedious task to part with certain books, weeding is important to ensure that the collection is fresh and inviting, and will make students want to read. Through the efforts of four librarians, Calarco is able to support any students’ interests with the best material possible. While some books may not have a place at the Hopkins school library, they may have a place in student libraries. Students should be sure to stop by Calarco Library and take a look at the books available!